Brad Keselowski once again comes up short at Michigan

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BROOKLYN, Michigan – Tourists are supposed to “Say Yes to Michigan,” but when it comes to winning a Sprint Cup race at his home track of Michigan International Speedway, Brad Keselowski keeps saying “No.”

For the 10th time in his Cup career, the Rochester Hills native – about an hour northeast of MIS – came up short in his own backyard, finishing third in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.

“We didn’t run as well as we wanted to, but we certainly didn’t run poorly,” Keselowski said. “It was a good day, not a great day. Third is nothing to hang your hat on. We have consistency, which is good.

“Unfortunately it doesn’t mean much right now at this time of the year in the sense of points. But it does mean a lot to us in the sense of overall morale and our ability to really make a push as the fall comes for the Chase.”

Keselowski now has three top-five finishes among his 10 starts at MIS: a runner-up and, with Sunday’s showing, two third-place efforts.

“We just didn’t have the speed really all weekend to be a front runner in the sense of contending to win based on speed,” Keselowski said. “But the guys did a great job with execution. I thought we executed really well. We had a lot of good restarts, pretty decent on pit road today, solid strategy.

“(Team Penske teammate) Joey Logano told us, we were talking before the race started, we needed a good blue collar (finish) today, and that’s what today was for us (Logano finished ninth).

“We kind of trudged through it and came away with another top three effort, which is good but not great. We want the wins, especially here at Michigan. That would mean a lot. And we just need a little bit more speed to be able to get there.”

Keselowski will get another chance to break through on his home track – just like Jimmie Johnson did Sunday, finally winning there in his 25th start – on August 17 in the series’ mid-summer return visit to MIS.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”